Utah’s Van Fillinger entering spring camp focused on his best

(Photo: Utah Athletics)



Spring Ball is here for Utah as Tuesday served as the first official practice of the 2022 season. There’s always a lot of intrigue with Spring Ball, but there’s a particular excitement to this round. Utah fires many starters from a Pac-12 championship team and welcomes many talented players from their highest-rated class to date.

Among the players looking to take a big step forward this offseason are the homegrown product, VanFillinger. His progress has already been noticed as he has lost weight and looks noticeably leaner. “Yeah, this is my second spring camp, my first without weighing 285, so I feel good,” revealed Fillinger. “I’m just trying to maintain that, instead of eating whatever I want, Panda Express was a real problem last year, so I’m staying away from that.”

Weight loss is valuable to his overall development and it will be interesting to see exactly how it affects his game.”Weight is so important, trainers preach that all the time, I mean they’re not trying to be a**holes telling you you have to be a certain weight,” he explained. ” They’re pretty much what’s best and at defensive end I understand they think 250 is where I need to be to perform at my best so I’m going to do my best to be at 250 by the end.”

With his first full season under his belt, Fillinger made great strides as a player, especially during the season when Utah was expected to be at its best. “I would say I’ve grown the most in the last few games, the games where if we didn’t win, we wouldn’t be competing in the Pac-12 championship,” he said. I felt like I had gained an understanding to do my part and if I didn’t do it to some degree I would negatively affect the defence. I also think since then I’ve come to understand that it takes a bit of intention to improve, like going to every practice with something in mind to work on, that’s what I focus on.”

Fillinger came to the program as a top talent who was athletically and physically prepared for the college level right out of high school. His development was important and made him grow particularly as a technician. “I feel like you get confidence when you get technique, which I think goes hand in hand,” he said. “You can be the strongest, fastest dude and not have good hands, not have good leverage every play. So for me, confidence comes from technique, and as my technique improves, I become more confident and towards the end of the season I felt like my technique had improved a lot.”

What’s crazy to consider is that Fillinger really is the oldest statesman in the defensive squad at the moment. With just one full season of playing experience, others in the room will look to him for leadership. “Yeah, I’m the old dude now, which is crazy, I’m not gonna lie but I try not to see it any different, I just focus on my part. If the guys come to me for help, I’ll help ’em but man I ain’t tryin’ to act as a leader, i just focus on being myself and helping my guys improve. There’s a lot of potential in this group, like a lot of talent and guys who can improve and guys who work hard.”

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